A very wise person once told me you can’t force democracy onto another nation. Democracy and representative rule is no easy thing. It may be easy in comprehension, desire, and want, but it is incredibly complicated in execution. Even America, the beacon of democracy exists and evolves in a constant state of upheaval between wants and needs, ideologies, and heated human emotion. And just to be clear, it has been like this since our great nation’s inception.
Egypt forced out Hosni Mubarak through its own efforts as part of what has been called the Arab Spring. America supported the dictator Mubarak, just like it supported Manuel Noriega, just like if supported Fulgencio Batista, just like it supported Shah Pahlavi, just like it supported Saddam Hussein. Are you seeing a pattern here? If you are, good. It’s not a difficult one to discern.
The American Empire continued to evolve as its people came to become more informed, more concerned, and more engaged, and in some corners quite enraged at our pursuit of hegemony and profit on the backs of foreign people. However, coming to even part of this understanding has not been an easy thing. We are all lemmings to some degree, bowed by ideology, even those of us who seek to remain above the fray and embrace critical thinking. Emotions form opinions, and for many of us nationalism conflicts with logic and justice both within and outside our own borders. It makes being a superpower difficult.
Our proud nation has propped up strong men, supported evil men in unholy alliances that sometimes revolved around religion in an effort to generate profits and accrue power to the detriment of the target nation’s people. Egypt did not suffer the most by any standard, but it was still a client state, with America supplying the nation with funding and hardware, just as we do Israel.
Our history has proven that we as Americans have not truly supported democracy outside our own borders if it does not align with American economic or military prosperity. However, our evolution as a culture has changed how we engage the world. WEB 2.0 and the information revolution has created a more informed and powerful electorate. We can more readily see what our policies do on a minute-by-minute, 24 hour basis. That has forced a change in how our nation conducts foreign policy.
Our awful manipulation of the Russian economy under neo-conservatives supporting market-driven economic models, which only helped to create the oligarchies and regimes that rule that vast nation today was a harsh lesson for us, and most Americans have no idea that we did it. Our most glaring and heinous criminal attempt at regime change for which we will not be brought to justice, is Iraq. This too, is a lesson we as Americans must take to heart.
I remember arguing with the wise person I mention above, telling her that Saddam is evil and we should consider it our duty to go over there and help those poor Iraqi’s by killing Saddam and removing the Bath party. In retrospect, I am almost embarrassed by my stance. As an African-American it takes some truly ideologically washed brain cells to go full-on America World Police Justice League, forgetting history and how European powers took upon themselves to save and uplift every ethnicity and religion they encountered, making the world safe for the Christian God and profit. Yeah, it takes moxy.
Thankfully I recovered, and removed the ideological poison from my brain. She made it really simple for me. Just like Americans wanted freedom and liberty, a government of the people, by the people, and for the people (of course with some notable exceptions, the nation was young and ignorant, it was what it was), these nations that desire such a government have to want it bad enough to take it for themselves. Just like the French supported us in our efforts, so to must we seek to support burgeoning democracies, but we must do it in a manner that aids with maximum sanctity of life and peaceful transition. We need no more Syrias. But just to be clear, if a nation needs to go through a Syrian-like conflict to embrace liberty and freedom and throw off the yolk of tyranny then they must be allowed to do so. They absolutely must be allowed to determine their own destiny as a will of the people intent upon the most good within the confines of their own borders. We did it and it was painful.
At times, the tree of liberty must be refreshed with the blood of patriots and tyrants. These words from a venerable founding father of the United States of America still do apply, though at this time in our history not here in the United States as some mentally challenged people would have us believe.
With this consideration we can, and if we choose, view the actions in Egypt objectively. There are learned women and men who say we should act in some fashion on the world stage to decry the military coup that has taken place in Egypt. Politics, as ever, constrains our communications. In an effort to be careful we have avoided calling a coup, a coup. It most certainly was a coup, and yes it was supported by the Egyptian military. The critical question is what do we, as Americans, do about it?
Some are saying we are supporting the upending of democracy in Egypt. Some are saying we should stop funding Egypt. Some say we should remove ourselves from the situation entirely and not recognize the new regime as it came to power in violation of the lawful process established by the post-Mubarak revolutionary government and the constitution they established. It is in this that the power of critical thinking and true consideration comes to the fore.
We gave money to a dictator. We gave money to a president who was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that was once classified as a terrorist group. As part of historical precedence due to our intransigence on the American hegemony mindset, we set the table for today. The people of Egypt, to a large degree, felt they were suffering under what was becoming to them an anti-woman theocracy. That was in violation of what many of them believed the revolution represented, a very real reach for freedom and liberty, with hopes of rivaling what even America has established, showing the world that as America once rose from conflict in strife, so too can the Egyptians, with a modicum of support.
They must learn for themselves, to build lasting institutions that they will respect and hold inviolate. They must learn to embrace the democratic process and know that they must live within the confines that their votes have established, at least until the next election. They must learn this for themselves. We cannot force it upon them. And we, as Americans, must tread carefully, reiterating our support of the democratic process, but providing support for what could eventually become a new powerful Middle-Eastern ally that supports and protects freedom of religion for all and promulgates the rule of law. Spring only lasts so long. Summer may be bright and hopeful, almost too hot, but short lived. In change there will always be Fall, and even a Winter. But we must remember that if we stay the course, Spring will come again, and with purpose the renewal of hope and growth can become long-lasting and perhaps to some degree, quite permanent.
Consider this critically.